Teen takes perfection in stride
July 27, 2012 4:04PM
Charles Tierney of Minooka High School scored a perfect 36 on his ACT. | Kris Stadalsky ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2012 6:05AM
There are few things in life that are perfect. People are never perfect (though we strive to be), the day sometimes seems perfect and evidently if you are a deep sea fisherman you might encounter the perfect storm.
But Minooka High School incoming senior Charles Tierney knows about perfection because he earned a perfect score on his ACT exam recently.
He had expected to do well, but getting a 36 out of 36 still came as a pleasant surprise.
All high school juniors in Illinois are required to take an ACT exam. Some states only require students who intend to go on to college take the exam.
Of course, colleges and universities use the ACT score as part of their entrance requirement.
Charles plans to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study mechanical engineering in the honors curriculum. He had to get a 33 or higher in order to be accepted to the program.
He actually took the test twice. The state doesn’t require the ACT to include a written portion in the test, so it’s not included on the school level. But U of I does require it.
Charles took his first exam at Minooka High in April without the written section, but was signed up at Joliet Junior College to retake the exam in June with the needed section.
His first score was a 34, an excellent score when you consider that the average composite score on the ACT test in Illinois was 20.9 in 2011.
Going into his second test at JJC, Charles expected to score well.
“It was still a surprise that I got a 36,” he said.
To put it in perspective, Minooka High’s Director of Community Relations Dave DiLorenzo gathered this information: The composite ACT score for the MCHS Class of 2011 was 21.3 and the composite score for those students tested nationally in 2011 was 21.1.
Less than 1/10 of 1 percent of students earn a perfect score of 36 on the ACT in any given year. Only 704 students, out of more than 1.6 million U.S. students graduating in 2011 who were tested, earned a score of 36.
While his score is impressive, and his parents Todd and Jean Tierney were visibly proud of their son at a recent Minooka High School Board meeting, Charles takes it all in stride.
He has no special formula for doing well in school. As a matter of fact he doesn’t love it or dislike it. He just learns quickly, he said.
But he does credit his parents with always being there whenever he needs help with anything.
When he’s not hitting the books, Charles is running cross country and track; is a member of the MCHS National Honor Society; plays in the marching band, concert band and jazz band; is part of the math team and participates in Scholastic Bowl.
What he finds most difficult at school is struggling to get his homework done during certain times of the year when his schedule is so hectic.
His dream job would be to someday work at a company such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin working on airplane construction.
“I find the whole engineering thing interesting,” he said.
It doesn’t seem a far stretch that in a half dozen years from now Charles Tierney just may be doing something amazing with airplanes of the future. And that could be the perfect plan.
Reach Kris Stadalsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.